Today’s schedule features two rivalry match-ups, so both games are naturally on ESPN. At 2:00 Central, Finland takes on Team Sweden. Finland was defeated 4-1 by Team North America on Sunday, possibly prompting some Tuukka Time for today’s game. However, Rask let in five goals against Sweden in pre-tournament play, so maybe Finland would be best served by allowing Pekka Rinne to shake off Sunday’s performance. Henrik Lundqvist should be recovered enough from the flu to take over for Jakob Markstrom, who was solid in Sweden’s 3-2 win over Russia on Sunday.
Tuesday night’s 7:00 game is win or go home for Team America. After Saturday’s disappointing drubbing by Team Europe to the tune of a 3-0 shutout, maybe Dustin Byfuglien and Kyle Palmieri will be in the line-up. Maybe. Then again, it’s John Tortorella, whose press conference yesterday Brett Hull basically dismissed on the broadcast with a “I’m tired of hearing this.” I think everyone is, because Torts has been questionable at best with his line-up decisions. Justin Abdelkader will be getting a beefed-up role tonight, playing on a line with Patrick Kane. Afrogator was playing on the fourth line Saturday; Torts thinks that he’s the key to unleashing Patrick Kane’s offensive potential. Not, say, Joe Pavelski.
Everyone get ready for Team Canada to eliminate Team USA tonight. It’s ok, though. We all have Team North America to rally behind. Sure, they lost last night, but at least their 4-3 loss to Russia was entertaining. At least they’re playing with some spark. Team USA might say the right things about effort, but when you have a team patterned after the 1996 team, you have a problem.
I don’t know about you, but I think hockey’s changed in the last 20 years.